How Anxiety State and Acceptance of an Embodied Agent Affect User Gaze Patterns

Nermin Shaltout, Diego Vilela Monteiro, Monica Perusquía-Hernández, Jason Orlosky, Kiyoshi Kiyokawa

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


In virtual reality (VR), the interactions of users with embodied agents when the users are anxious or when they do not accept an agent are not yet completely understood. Gaze can be indicative of the user’s anxiety and acceptability of an embodied agent. An agent’s expressions or actions can, in turn, be used to accommodate the user’s anxiety. Previous work on social anxiety disorder (SAD) found evidence of avoidance or hyper-vigilant gaze patterns in relation to agents or people the participants were gazing at. Thus, we investigated if there are specific gaze patterns for normal individuals experiencing anxiety in the moment when gazing at an embodied agent. We focused mostly on avoidant gaze patterns. Based on evidence of gaze patterns in SAD and autism, we designed an experiment where normative individuals interact with an agent showing a neutral, happy and angry expressions. We aim to examine if normal anxious participants have similar gaze patterns or avoidance patterns to those with SAD. We also investigated if the user’s acceptability or preference of the virtual agent’s display of emotions had an effect on the avoidance via eye gaze. In particular, we investigated the user’s eye patterns in relations to the agent’s eyes, face or body to see if there were similarities to people with SAD. Using correlation analysis, we found a significant positive correlation between the acceptability of the participant to the virtual agent’s expression and their fixation on the agent’s eyes. We also found a significant correlation between fixations on the agent’s body and how anxious the participant was at the experiment’s start. Later, these results can be used to find a link between acceptability, anxiety and SAD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCEUR Workshop Proceedings
StatePublished - 2022
Event14th Asia-Pacific Workshop on Mixed and Augmented Reality, APMAR 2022 - Yokohama, Japan
Duration: Dec 2 2022Dec 3 2022


  • Anxiety
  • Embodied Agent
  • Eye Gaze
  • Virtual Reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)


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